In contrast to the religious system which secures acceptability, honor, prestige and respectability before the world, Paul was viewed as "the offscouring of all things".

"Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day" (I Corinthians 4:13).

Paul was viewed as filth and offscouring! Let's look at these words briefly:

Filth – Strong defines this word as "refuse." Webster defines it as, "Dirt; any foul matter; any thing that soils or defiles; waste matter; nastiness."

Offscouring – now there is an interesting word. Strong defines it as "off-scrapings (fig. scum)." Webster defines it as, "That which is scoured off; hence, refuse; rejected matter; that which is vile or despised."

Every time I think of this passage, and Paul's use of the word "offscouring," I am reminded of the kitchen sink. When I grew up, my mother often used iron pans in her cooking. In fact, it is a method that my wife has continue in our home to this day. After something extra good has been fired-up in the iron skillet, inevitably the time comes for cleanup. The iron skillet is placed down into a pan of clean water and a scouring pad is applied. When the job is complete, noting else can be washed in that water! In fact it is good-for-nothing water. It is one of the nastiest pans of water one would ever want to see. It is filled with offscouring. Anybody thirsty?

That was the world-view of Paul. He was "scum."

If we are seeking to be recognized and accepted by the world, we will have to follow another course, other than Paul's.

Instead of bearing the simple names of who we are in Christ, such as saint or brother, leaders of religious movements would prefer titles that would be more acceptable to the world – titles that would identify who they are in the system, such as Reverend, Doctor, Founder, Director, President, etc. How impressive they all sound. They seem to make us something before the eyes of the world, and give our work some type of standing. But are we not already something, and do we not already have a standing? Why would we want to have something more than what we already have in Christ?


Most of us have a built-in desire to "fit in." We have a deep-seated desire to "belong" – and not just to anything – but to belong to something significant, something respectable, something big!

But we already belong to something! Something that is not of this world. Something that is apart from the religious and world systems. It is something that is eternal and heavenly – it is the church, the body of Christ.

From the world-view, as we have seen in already, God has chosen things that are foolish, weak, base, and despised.

So, we must always keep in mind that there are two conflicting viewpoints. Let's not allow ourselves to be pressured by the religious and world systems. Let's not be pressured to abandon God's assessment of things. Let's not be drawn into their mutual admiration societies!


While on earth, in His ministry to Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ, pointed out a great and significant truth:

"Ye are thy which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15).

We would do well to ponder this in our hearts.

Clyde Pilkington

Gladstone, VA

Visit Clyde's web site at

Return to Index of Clyde Pilkington's Writings